RuPaul’s Drag Race moving off Netflix for season 14 is the wrong decision – here’s why
Everyone has Netflix, but not everyone can afford yet another streaming service
RuPaul’s Drag Race has changed my life. It has changed my knowledge and history of queer culture, taught me about drag as an art form and made me a die hard fan. So much so, that I am now in a place in my life where writing about RuPaul’s Drag Race is about 80 per cent of what I do for a living. I love the show, and despite me frequently airing my frustrations with judging or season results, the good will always outweigh the bad. But the decision for RuPaul’s Drag Race to move from its UK home of Netflix to Wow Presents Plus is one that I think is disastrous. Here’s why.
I remember so vividly how I first discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race. It was 2013, and I let my friend use my Netflix in a time where I was using my dad’s account and I saw a strange looking reality show gleaming out of the recently watched. It was highly unlikely that my dad had been streaming it, unless he was playing his cards incredibly close to his chest, so I deduced that it must be my friend. And I was mortified. I was out to my family at this stage, so it wasn’t that. But my lack of understanding of drag made me worried about if my dad would think I was a drag queen, or if I was trans. In hindsight, a stupid and pointless worry – but one I remember vividly. I soon became a big fan, and watched all the seasons in chronological order becoming truly obsessed when I caught up with the then-airing season six. The rest is history, but would it have been if not for Netflix being right at my fingertips?
Netflix never faltered
By this point in the evolution of streaming, Netflix has had the UK industry in a chokehold for close to a decade – after it expanded into the UK market in January 2012. Within nearly all that decade, it has been the home for RuPaul’s Drag Race, and All Stars from season three onwards. By this point, you’d be hard pressed to find a household without access. It’s easy, on the go, and expansive. Getting Netflix doesn’t feel like an additional cost because we’ve all factored it into our spending budgets for nearly 10 years now. And if you haven’t , and you’ve got the money in your monthly budget to subscribe to just one streaming service, the chances are you’re going to pick Netflix. The original TV shows alone make it the worthwhile choice.
Taking RuPaul’s Drag Race off Netflix for season 14 is another move to push WOW Presents Plus, World of Wonder’s own streaming service. World Of Wonder produce Drag Race globally, and all versions of the international franchises are available to stream on Wow Presents Plus besides UK and Down Under, which are on BBC iPlayer. A subscription to WOW Presents Pus costs £5.50 a month – barely a few pounds less than Netflix for a fraction of the titles available. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can afford multiple streaming services, but I certainly wasn’t back when I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix.
Is this making Drag Race less accessible for young queer kids who rely on it?
If you’re a young LGBTQ+ person in a household where you don’t get taught much about queer culture, or you’re trying to find out who you are, sitting in bed binging RuPaul’s Drag Race can be as educational as it is comforting. It has taught me personally over the years so much about my community’s history, legacy and culture. If you’re discovering who you are, or your parents aren’t understanding, you aren’t going to feel comfortable going to ask if your parents will pay your access to another subscription service. It simply isn’t going to happen. This kind of move for RuPaul’s Drag Race off Netflix in the UK could really alienate younger viewers.
Enough with the new streaming services I beg
On a broader note, I’ve had enough of streaming services in general. Perhaps I’m seeing the world with naive and rose-tinted glasses, but I dream of a day where I don’t have to subscribe to Netflix, Disney Plus, WOW Presents Plus, hayu, Amazon Prime and whatever bloody else springs up just so I can get access to all the shows that I want to watch. It’s exhausting, from both a financial perspective and a trying-to-remember-all-my-logins perspective.
Can’t they all just combine? Work together? Unionise? I don’t know. Just make it easier PLEASE.
People in the UK are already zoning out of Drag Race US – this move isn’t going to help
Ever since Drag Race UK and Canada’s Drag Race started airing their seasons like a breath of fresh air, the general attitude towards the stateside mothership of RuPaul’s Drag Race is one that could be best described as a big yawn. Not everyone has the time to dedicate to watching a never-ending flow of Drag Race, and with season 13 going on for what felt like a millennia the general consensus is that everyone is sick of it. By the time the next season comes round, of course everyone is normally ready and raring to tune in because if its on Netflix, why the hell wouldn’t we? The majority of fans are in too deep. But if its on another service that people aren’t already loving and using, what is the incentive for them to sign up?
I will still be watching and writing about RuPaul’s Drag Race when it leaves Netflix UK for season 14, because I’m in too deep. I just hope the producers have spared a thought for those who might not be able to enjoy their favourite show going forward.
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